City of Northfield investigations, Part II

Northfield City Council
In today’s Nfld News, reporter Suzy Rook has two articles on the City Hall-related investigations that never end:

1. Interviews, papers will be released today.

Background information on an investigation of city and elected officials is expected to be made public today. Documents supporting William Everett’s investigation into alleged wrongdoing were to have been released last week, but were delayed after Mayor Lee Lansing expressed a concern that some of the information in the papers may not be correct.

2. Council writes Goodhue to work faster.

A letter asking the Goodhue County attorney to expedite the investigation against City Administrator Al Roder will soon be in the mail… The city council also learned that a second investigation being conducted by Goodhue County began independent of the Everett report… Councilors Davis and Noah Cashman said Tuesday they had no idea what Greene was referring to or where the review of Everett’s report stood.

16 thoughts on “City of Northfield investigations, Part II”

  1. re: #1: Griff: maybe you could link to Mn Statutes 13.02 thru 13.05, so that people could have a better basic knowledge of these data issues.
    I think the most relevant one to this article might be 13.04, subd. 4, which says that the subject of the data must have the opportunity to review in case they disagree, because a statement of disagreement must accompany the release of the data.
    The newspaper was not very clear about this; maybe just too much caucus news to deal with last night.
    I think it’s imperative for as much accurate info to be out there, as possible, so that wild speculation/accusation/opinion is limited.

  2. Kiffi, here’s the link to the main page for Minnesota Statutes 2006, Chapter 13. Government Data Practices. And 13.04, Subdivision 4 reads:

      Subd. 4. Procedure when data is not accurate or complete. (a) An individual subject of the data may contest the accuracy or completeness of public or private data. To exercise this right, an individual shall notify in writing the responsible authority describing the nature of the disagreement. The responsible authority shall within 30 days either: (1) correct the data found to be inaccurate or incomplete and attempt to notify past recipients of inaccurate or incomplete data, including recipients named by the individual; or (2) notify the individual that the authority believes the data to be correct. Data in dispute shall be disclosed only if the individual’s statement of disagreement is included with the disclosed data.

    The determination of the responsible authority may be appealed pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act relating to contested cases. Upon receipt of an appeal by an individual, the commissioner shall, before issuing the order and notice of a contested case hearing required by chapter 14, try to resolve the dispute through education, conference, conciliation, or persuasion. If the parties consent, the commissioner may refer the matter to mediation. Following these efforts, the commissioner shall dismiss the appeal or issue the order and notice of hearing. (b) Data on individuals that have been successfully challenged by an individual must be completed, corrected, or destroyed by a state agency, political subdivision, or statewide system without regard to the requirements of section 138.17.

    After completing, correcting, or destroying successfully challenged data, a government entity may retain a copy of the commissioner of administration’s order issued under chapter 14 or, if no order were issued, a summary of the dispute between the parties that does not contain any particulars of the successfully challenged data.

  3. The actual part II of the Everett report is now out; and I gotta tell you , it’s “out there”. For those that haven’t been able to keep track of NF’s many investigations, this is the extension of the “Big” Everett report, that came out on Dec 17th.

    This is the one where the council voted to give Mr. Everett another $5K to investigate the allegations by David Maroney that the city’s contracting practices are somewhat less than perfect. Mr. Maroney is a highly respected former city staffer who still lives in NF. He has been questioning the city’s contracts re: the 5th St infrastructure/ engineering project, for some time, and felt he was not getting adequate answers from the city. The city council, presumably feeling the city had given adequate answers, decided to give mr. Everett another 5 thousand dollars to investigate the situation. (Your tax dollars at work, in the council chambers which is fast turning into a courtroom)

    The NF NEWS has just begun to report on this, I presume there’ll be more coming, but the initial report says that the report finds no wrongdoing on the part of the city. OK, that would be good, EXCEPT, guess what? Mr. Everett did not interview Mr. Maroney! Hmmmm…….. if you only interview the parties on one side of a conflict, is it possible that you won’t even try to provide a well rounded exploration of the facts? How can you possibly , justly, look at only one side of an issue, and understand the conflict, much less hope to evaluate the validity of both sides arguments/ POVs? Aren’t you interested to know what Mr. Maroney might have to say on his side of the table; what arguments he might have brought to the investigator to support his case? What his answers might have been IF he had been interviewed?

    I, personally, think “we’ve been had”, folks…….oh, well, its only another 5 thousand dollars….about 1 dollar for every household in Northfield. Gotta spend those tax dollars on the highest priorities!

  4. I want to know what Mr. Maroney was concerned about.
    Would he or someone representing him let us know his
    concerns? I don’t think the $5,000 bill should be paid if
    the report was not “complete”; meaning these (Mr. Maroney’s) concerns should be stated and addressed. I am not generally in favor of “special reports at $5,000 or more a pop”. However, if he is respected and has past city experience I “assume” other community members might be interested or have similar concerns. Why did the council allocate this money unless they also have some concerns? Or is this just a whitewash? My God,
    I’ve said it!

    This is disgusting…why does this continue to be allowed to happen in Northfield??? Makes me almost threaten to run for office…but then again…

  5. Barbara: I would not want to explicitly state Mr. Maroney’s concerns: I would hope he would do that himself.
    From being at council meetings where he spoke, a lot of the concern seemed to center on “conflict of interest” issues. For reasons stated in the NFNews article, the city needed more engineering expertise for oversight. On the consent agenda at a Jan22.07 council meeting (consent agenda meaning there is NO discussion; the entire agenda is passed with one vote)Mark Kasma was designated as the City Engineer. The conflict, if there is one , arises from the fact that Mr. Kasma is a principal in the firm of Bolton and Menk (a very reputable firm with previous city connections) which had already been working on the 5th street infrastructure project for some months. The contract with Bolton and Menk was signed on the 24th of January, two days after that council meeting. The signature on the contract, as the signatory principal for B& M, is Mark Kasma. This is a bare outline of one issue.

    The report,and its investigative documents were released all at once this time, and can be read at the Library. It’s maybe 50 pages. You have to ask for it at the reference desk; it is not on public display with the other city materials. The two parts of this supplement report are in the front pocket of the binder holding the Dec, 17th “Big” Everett report.

    It is immediately obvious from reading it, that it is only from the “city’s” point of view; It raises as many questions as it answers. IMHO, these “independent” investigations are very problematic as they seem to only present a biased opinion, and then cause a “rush to judgment”.

    You said “whitewash”……. I don’t know. Read it and decide.

  6. Griff: Could you please link to Jaci Smith’s current “Bend in the River” blog, which asks some hard questions about the Everett II report.

    As, I said earlier, the report raises as many, or more, questions than it answers; I feel the Everett letter to the council does also. Careful reading would seem to show that the investigator had a hard time providing his client, (city council) with the conclusion they wanted. For an attorney who does municipal law investigations, this is a hard position to be in.

    The only reason I can see to NOT interview Mr. Maroney, especially if you care about wanting to present a thorough investigation, is that Mr. Maroney’s questions, documented facts, whatever…….once raised, would have to be responded to, or answered. Therefor, only dealing with the city’s presentation/ POV of the issue makes it possible to react only to that POV, providing some degree of comfort to your client.

    Is it then fortunate, or unfortunate, that Northfielders have high reading skills?

  7. Ok, I’ll admit to being just a wee tad ballistic ( or are “wee tad” and “ballistic” completely antithetical?) about the fact that nobody seems to care enough to comment on the subject of the Everett reports……

    Does everyone just see these two reports as a “fait accompli”? Even the newspaper is raising questions re: Everett 2, even if their angst is partly centered on being “dissed”.

    These reports will define some of the action, moving forward in this community, and the city council will certainly base some of their actions based on them; indeed already HAS based actions on the “conclusions” of Everett 1.

    There’s an awful lot of discussion in small social groups, neighbors, coffee house, LWV, and maybe other organizations……. Why so little PUBLIC comment?

    What I’ve heard in all sorts of different venues,is that many people feel things will not change unless the entire council+ leaves; that any of the current players remaining will/may insure that the same dynamics continue.

    Certainly these two Everett reports will play a role, whatever happens.

  8. Griff: Do you see the opinion from the state Policy and Analysis Division, on the release of *THE* Tapes as adding an interesting layer, in the investigations? The state office says they cannot be released at this time.

    The council has never formally declared the 600 Division St. site to be “out of the running”, but last fall asked for the tapes to be released, which would not be allowed under the opinion’s evaluation of the Statutes. The council’s request for the release of the tapes was during the Mayor’s lawsuit time. What did they hope to gain by the release of the tapes, at that time, when they themselves had previously denied the release for many months?

    Now we come to a time when the council asks to consider , at the next meeting, the formal rejection of the 600 Division St. site. Two days later, the State opinion comes out. What’s the reason for this request to reject that site at this time when they have not done it for so long? Is it solely because they are embarking on yet another survey of possible sites? Then why not reject all the previously looked at sites?

    I guess the questions I’m raising have to do with what I see as extreme political machinations , many of which have been the source of consternation in the community since last summer.

    You say you can’t stay interested until all the investigations come out; I agree that no one should make a final evaluation until all the investigations come out……..but if you don’t take note of the many other steps in between, how will you have all the info to factor into your evaluation?

    Everyone “you” talk to is sick of the whole mess, AND who the heck cares, at this point, if we have a new liquor store? Not me; I can always park at the current one, and the staff is really efficient and very helpful and friendly.

  9. After looking at the subsequent articles on the Everett II report, and Dave Maroney’s response, letter to council, and his taking the issue to the state auditor, I would like to say this: This is NOT an issue of a citizen wasting taxpayers/ council’s time and dollars.

    Dave Maroney is a professional engineer, who lives in NF, has previously been a highly regarded city employee, and has a lot of expertise in all the appropriate disciplines to evaluate the issue of the temporary city engineer, and related infrastructure projects.

    The council must have thought so, also, since THEY chose to spend more money with Mr. Everett, to look into this. Unfortunately, Mr. Everett didn’t choose to look very deeply. If you can read, and will take the time to read the 15 page report, and the 35 pp. of support documents, you will find you are left with a lot more questions raised than answered. IMHO,The report is without dimension, in it’s research and conclusions.

    But just to reiterate, the City Council chose to spend these additional 5K, plus expenses, dollars; this was not forced upon them by a posse!

  10. Correction: I previously stated that Mr. Dave Maroney is a “professional engineer”; that is NOT so. He is not an engineer. I would more correctly describe him as an administrator, one who has previously worked as high level city staff in Northfield.
    Sorry about the mistake…….

  11. Mr. Maroney , and his family , DO live in Northfield. They have lived here for some years.
    Mr. Maroney’s business is located in Faribault.

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